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Making the Workplace a Safe Place to Speak Up

Right now, organizations across the country are asking themselves what they can do to make their workplaces more inclusive, diverse, and equitable, particularly for Black employees. They’re hosting conversations, acknowledging areas where they’ve fallen short, and identifying opportunities for improvement.  For these efforts to be successful, employees need to be able to speak freely, offering critical and candid feedback about individual behaviors, workplace practices, and organizational policies. None of this can happen, however, if people believe it isn’t safe for them to speak up.  It often isn’t. Employees who report harassment and discrimination, speak candi

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What should I do if my employee discloses that their family member or roommate has COVID-19?

Employees who have come within six feet of someone who is infected should self-quarantine for 14 days after their last exposure per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). During this time, they should take their temperature twice a day and watch for symptoms of COVID-19. Currently, the known symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, sore throat, muscle pain, chills, new loss of taste or smell, or shortness of breath.  Because COVID-19 is widespread in so many communities, the CDC recommends that everyone practice social distancing, be alert for COVID-19 symptoms, and follow CDC guidanceif symptoms develop.  Remember to maintain the confidentiality o

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We suspect that one of our employees harassed another, but we only have their conflicting stories to go on—no witnesses, video, or emails.

The accuser’s account of the incident seems much more credible than that of the accused. Can we discipline with only this information? Probably. It would be a good idea to consider whether your investigation was thorough. If it was, and all you have to go on is the testimony of the accuser and the accused, then you should take their credibility into consideration and make a determination based on their respective accounts.  Here are some factors to consider when determining credibility: Each employee’s reputation for truthfulness and accuracyIf the story each employee presents is plausible Whether one of the employees has a motive to be untruthful Whether one emp

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Can we reduce pay because of economic slowdown due to COVID-19?

You can reduce an employee's rate of pay based on business or economic slowdown, provided that this is not done retroactively. For instance, if you give employees notice that their pay will change on the 10th, and your payroll period runs from the 1st through the 15th, make sure that their next check still reflects the higher rate of pay for the first 9 days of the payroll period.  Non-exempt employees (those entitled to overtime)A non-exempt employee's new rate of pay must still meet the applicable federal, state, or local minimum wage. Employees must be given notice of the change at the time of the change, or before. This gives them the ability to stop working if they don’t

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We have an employee who generally performs well, but at times behaves immaturely. When she gets upset, she slams things and stomps around the office. She also often says “That’s not my job” when asked to help with something. She’s younger and this is her first job. Is there a best way to address this behavior without it sounding personal? I know I can’t tell her to “grow up,” but I also can’t allow this immature behavior to continue.

Yes, I would suggest you give the employee a verbal warning concerning her unprofessional behavior. While you could, in fact, tell her to “grow up,” that may not be the most useful advice. You can tell her that slamming and stomping are not acceptable behaviors in a professional setting, and that you would appreciate it if she addressed frustrations with her direct supervisor or with you. You should also remind her that you’re on the same team and helping the team is part of everyone’s job description. You might also let her know that you’re there to support her, that you want her to succeed, and that while first jobs can be especially stressful, she’s not alone.  After

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Supreme Court Rules in Favor of LGBTQ Employment Protections

The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that employers may not discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment. This decision affects all employers with 15 or more employees. The decision was a response to three separate cases, all of which were about employment discrimination based on “sex” under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which applies to all employers with 15 or more employees. There has been debate for years about the definition of sex under Title VII. Originally, many assumed that it meant only that men and women could not be treated differently, but over the years the Supreme Court has interpreted the definition to include cert

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We are reopening after business closure due to COVID-19. Can we bring some employees back, but not others?

Yes. If you are recalling some positions, but not others, you should document the business reasons why only those positions were recalled. If you are recalling some employees in a certain position, but not everyone in that position, you should document the objective, job-related criteria you used to decide which employees to bring back. Seniority or previous job performance, for example, would be acceptable criteria and relatively easy to defend if you are ever challenged. Content provided by TPC HR Support Center.

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Families First Coronavirus Response Act

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was signed into law on March 18, 2020 and goes into effect today, April 1.  The Department of Labor has provided additional guidance on the new law, which we strongly encourage employers to read. We also encourage you to see our COVID-19 guidance and resources on the TPC HR Support Center, which you can find by searching COVID-19 within that site.  SummaryFor certain circumstances related to COVID-19, employees will be eligible for: Up to two weeks of sick leave (full pay for self, 2/3 pay for family care) for illness, quarantine, or school closuresUp to 12 weeks of Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave for school clo

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COVID-19: April 1 Effective Date for FFCRA Leaves

On Tuesday, March 24, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced that the effective date of the leaves available through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) will be April 1, 2020.  Based on the language in the bill, the effective date was widely believed to be April 2.  The DOL announced the effective date in a “Questions and Answers” document where it also provided answers to some common questions. Other than the April 1 effective date, the information is in line with what we have been advising. The DOL also released two Fact Sheets, both of which appear to contain the same information, but it’s possible they will each be updated in the future with i

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COVID-19 and Your Workplace

The last month has been interesting, dramatic, and stressful as the country has taken small and large measures to limit the spread of COVID-19. Employers nationwide are struggling with how to deal with these changes. Below are answers to some frequently asked questions as well as links to several resources that employers may find helpful. What am I obligated to do, legally?There aren’t any universal employer responsibilities that crop up as soon as something is declared a pandemic. That said, pay attention to federal, state, and local authorities to see if they are rolling out benefits or prohibitions that you need to be aware of. For instance, Colorado passed an emergency paid sick leave

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